Bail Assessment, Support and Supervision Program (BASSP)
Our Bail Assessment, Support & Supervision Program (BASSP) opened its doors in March of 2012. BASSP provides men with an opportunity to remain in or return to the community while awaiting trial or sentencing. Clients who would otherwise not receive bail have another option besides waiting in custody.
Given that in Canada we have the right of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, our bail program is designed not to address the current charges our clients face, but what the court deems to be their risk to breach bail condition factors such as lack of stable housing, employment, education, addictions, and mental health issues.
Being granted bail for their pre-trial period allows our clients to benefit from the support and programming offered in the community and gives them the chance to address issues that will help them move forward in pro-social ways.
We have found that judges, even if our clients are found guilty, look favourably on men who have been living in the community prior to their sentencing, attending programs, working, going to school, and being involved in the lives of their children, partners and families.
So far, the majority of the clients who have remained in the program until sentencing receive absolute discharges or community sentences. Our goal is to help our clients break the cycle of arrest/incarceration and make positive changes in their lives.
All referrals to our program must be initiated by a lawyer.
We work with up to 75 adult men who have been charged with an offense and who are deemed by the courts to pose a risk to re-offend and/or fail to comply with their bail conditions.
The residential component of our program can accommodate up to 25 men. These men live at BASSP’s residence at 583 Ellice Avenue, where they are able to take advantage of the in-house programs offered by the John Howard Society, as well as attend programs in the community. They are also required to abide by the bail conditions set out for them as well as the rules of the residence. See more about our residence below.
Direct to community
The remaining 50 spaces in the program are for men who are granted bail to a community address, such as the address they were living at prior to their arrest, the address of a family member, or another stable living arrangement.
These are men who have a place to live but who need support and supervision over and above what a traditional bail system would provide. They are required to meet with their caseworker at least once per week to ensure they are following their case plan. See this PDF for a graphic representation.
Individualized Case Plans
BASSP’s two caseworkers collaborate with their clients to develop a case plan that is customized to that person’s unique needs and risk factors. Case plans focus on areas of need or concern such as education and literacy, employment skills, substance abuse and issues with anger or violence.
Caseworker and client work together to set goals and create a weekly schedule for the client that allows him to access resources in the community and at the JHS office.
BASSP clients may participate in our in-house programming which includes the following:
End to Aggression,
Triple P Parenting,
Introduction to Healthy Relationships,
Coming to Terms (substance abuse), and
John Howard Society’s literacy program.
They might attend community programs such as St. Raphael’s Wellness Centre, which addresses addiction and family/marital difficulties.
Many clients attend Alcoholics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. Others enroll in adult learning centres to work toward their Grade 12 diploma.
Still others volunteer their time at organizations such as Winnipeg Harvest, thereby contributing to the community and acquiring skills and experience for their resumes.
Clients at BASSP are able to seek employment, assuming that their specific bail conditions allow it.
It should be noted that while we understand the importance of employment, programming is a higher priority for BASSP staff. It’s important that clients address issues such as substance abuse or anger management before attempting to take on employment, especially full-time.
Our residence is a 25-bed dormitory unit, with bunk beds and storage lockers for each resident’s belongings. Washroom facilities include toilets, sinks, and showers. We provide three basic meals per day.
All residents of BASSP agree to abide by a 10:00 p.m. curfew, to sign in and out, and to notify residence care workers of where they are going. Some residents may have different curfew requirements depending on their bail conditions. All residents must follow basic house rules, such as abstaining from drugs and alcohol and showing respect for staff and other residents.
In the evenings and on weekends residents are able to visit their friends and family members. An important part of keeping people connected to the community is maintaining family ties, especially for our clients who are parents.
The program provides a supervisory role over clients on bail. We have an obligation to report any failures to comply with bail conditions to the Crown and the Police. A breach of bail conditions by the client may result in eviction from the program and a return to custody. However, we have brought breached clients back into the program with a revised bail plan.
Our very first client was one of our biggest success stories, living in the community, working, and attending AA meetings. He never missed a curfew and when he appeared in front of a judge he was given an absolute discharge. To date, 74 clients have successfully remained with BASSP until their trial or sentencing.